In the end the Kitchener Rangers were just too big, too strong, too experienced and too good.
The Guelph Storm put up a valiant fight once again Sunday at the Sleeman Centre, but in the end the Rangers prevailed, downing Guelph 5-2 and taking their opening round playoff series four games to two.
Kitchener moves on to play the Sarnia Sting in the conference semifinals.
It was a particularly emotional day for Guelph overagers Garrett McFadden and James McEwan, who spent their entire junior careers playing for the Storm.
McFadden played 307 games in a Storm jersey, fourth most of any player in team history. McEwan played 252 games.
Mark Shoemaker also finished his junior career in Guelph, playing his final season here after coming over in a trade last summer.
"Being at home and stepping off the ice for the last time definitely makes things more emotional, that's for sure," said McFadden, the team's captain the past two seasons.
"I'm proud of the guys. We did everything we could to try and force a Game 7."
He said skating down to goaltender Anthony Popovich at the end of the game, telling his teammates "good season" then doing the Storm salute at centre made for an emotional end.
"It's hard to sit in there (the dressing room) and think 'I'm not coming back after the summer.' But sometimes change can be a good thing and I'm excited to see what the future holds," McFadden said.
"I'll always remember the family atmosphere here and just loving every single guy I've played with. There's been no bad guys in this dressing room ever," he said of his hockey "brothers."
McEwan needed a few moments in the dressing room to gather himself before coming out to talk to the media.
"It's kind of a whirlwind right now. I'm just trying to soak it all in," the Chatham native said.
"We gave it our best shot. It's sad that it has to end like this, but the future is so bright with this group of guys. I'm really excited to watch them," McEwan said.
"All the great moments here. I'll never take anything for granted, it was the time of my life. It's sad that it comes to an end, but I'm excited for the future.
"We're brothers in that dressing room."
Three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second period busted open a 1-1 tie in Game 6, as the Rangers seemed to capitalize on any mistake the Storm made.
Isaac Ratcliffe made it 4-2 in the final minute of the second period and the Storm threw everything they had at the Rangers in the third, but it wasn't enough, with Joseph Garreffa's goal with just over two minutes left sinking any hope of a late-game comeback
Kitchener held the shot advantage 32-31, but the Rangers' shots were of much higher quality.
Storm coach George Burnett said the Storm didn't lose for a lack of effort or caring.
"I'm proud of the way they handled themselves. Kitchener is a big, strong club and in the end we didn't have the depth to match what they threw at us," Burnett said.
He said the playoff experience will prove extremely valuable moving forward.
"All-in-all I think there's a lot of progress shown in our season and I think we've taken some steps forwards," Burnett said.
"We know what needs to change, what needs to be improved upon and what we need to tweak for next season."
Next up for Guelph is the OHL Priority Selection draft on Saturday. Guelph picks seventh overall.